Tamara* grew up in a loving home with two parents. People who knew her would have said she was an overachiever, one of those “Most Likely to Succeed” types. She was one of the many African Americans in her school to receive scholarships to attend college. Then she met a man—an older man who stole her heart and her virginity.
Pregnant at 18, she made the choice to have an abortion. Unfortunately, Tamara remained in sin, and by the time she was in her mid-20s, had four more abortions. Now 30 years old with two kids, Tamara lives with an ache in her heart at the unnecessary loss of the other children by her choice to abort them.
“Having children made me realize the ultimate value of life beyond my selfish motivations of what I felt life was about,” Tamara told me. “After having my first child I realized or began to feel the other children I once had the opportunity to have were still my children. I have dealt with a greater sense of regret and conviction after having children. I have realized the gift it is to be chosen by God to nurture and raise the seeds he plants, his children, whether they were conceived by sin and lust or by love.”
She made the decisions to abort to “save a relationship [with her boyfriend] for four of them and the fifth due to finances and fear.” Tamara now believes that abortion is wrong. She shared through tears:
“It is a weird thing, abortion. It is wrong in the sense that someone would even have the idea to create such a procedure to begin with. It is wrong to think that someone wouldn’t take responsibility for their actions. It is wrong that young men don’t understand the effect it has on the young woman or girl who lies in the cold, cold, cold room with a group of other woman to ultimately remove a child as if it is a parasite. It’s heavy.”
Tamara is now on a journey to understand God’s forgiveness of sins through Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross.
“I repeatedly decided to have abortions because I wasn’t serving the good will of my Lord, I was blindly living in the world and serving people and relationships, dreams that weren’t ever fully met anyway due to conviction and self doubt. I still have a looming feeling of guilt from time to time and am still on a journey to understand God’s love for me so that I understand Christ’s sacrifice for these sins I have committed.”
Tamara is not alone. Thousands of women each week choose to take the life of their unborn child. Abortion is an epidemic among African American females. According to statistics publicized by Care Net, the mother organization of more than 1,100 pregnancy centers, non-Hispanic black women account for 30 percent of all abortions in the United States, even though African Americans compose only a little more than 12 percent of the population. Overall, 43 percent of pregnancies among black women end in abortion.
The Rev. Dean Nelson has spent the last 20 years serving in black communities and historically black colleges and universities. He has spent the past two years working as the vice president of underserved outreach for Care Net. He offers some explanation and insight into the abortion rate among African American women in this brief interview.
So what can be done?
We can have policies at the state and federal level that can affirm the nuclear family. This is being done in Virginia through their state social services and organizations like the Fatherhood Initiative. I believe it is important that the church and family assume its proper role in affirming sexual fidelity in early years. Studies show that when those in the black community understand the role of pregnancy centers and the history of Planned Parenthood they overwhelmingly support pregnancy centers as a positive resource in their communities.
If a church is predominantly white or in a suburban area but has a desire to assist, how would you direct them?
They should encourage and help suburban pregnancy centers to build relationships with respected urban churches that share the value of life to establish new pregnancy centers in communities where abortion rates are higher. The key is collaborative effort. The respected urban churches have the community relationship, the suburban centers have the training and expertise, and suburban churches have the values, commitment, and resources to assist.
I have spoken to a woman who said she was “forced” to have abortions by her boyfriend, who didn’t want to support her. How do we reach the men? The burden and consequence of abortion seems to fall on the woman.
This is not uncommon; however, there seems to be a growing number of men who want to keep the children they conceive, but they often feel they have little say because the mother as the carrier of the child will make the final decision. That being said, some Care Net centers in conjunction with the National Fatherhood Initiative have launched “Fatherhood Programs” in urban areas such as Dallas and Atlanta.
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Care Net’s mission is that lives would be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, and every woman would choose life for herself and her unborn child. Last year, Care Net’s affiliated pregnancy centers served more than 400,000 women, offering them free or low-cost medical services such as ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, STD tests, and counseling services. For more information about Care Net and its urban initiatives visit http://careneturban.org/.
No Sin Too Great
If you are among the thousands of women who have chosen to abort your child, I want to share God’s grace with you. John Piper has helpfully and powerfully addressed the topic of race and abortion. Hear this word for you:
And lest anyone think that you are simply too sinful—that there have been too many sins for too long—listen to the way the great sinner, the apostle Paul, speaks to you—directly to you. This is 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” In other words, if God can save me, the foremost (he was a murdering Christian-hater), then he can save anyone who comes to him. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
There is forgiveness in Christ. If you are convicted of your sin, confess it and ask God to forgive you. Then walk in that forgiveness in the light (Ephesians 5:8-11) and speak with a pastor or Christian counselor to assist you further.
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*Tamara is not the interviewee’s real name. Her first and last name has been concealed to protect the identity of her children and the men involved in the circumstances above.